Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Five States of Mind

The Qualities of Mind

Patanjali defines yoga as a certain mental state - he calls that state Nirodha

Nirodha is the 5th and highest level of mind

Nirodha is attained by successively recognizing and conquering the lower levels of mind.

1st/lowest level is to be likened to a drunken monkey swinging from branch to branch: thoughts, feelings, and perceptions go in rapid succession. We are hardly aware of them and we can find no thread linking them - this level of the mind's activity is called ksipta

2nd level is called mudha. Here the mind is like a heavy water buffalo standing for hours in one place. Any inclination to observe, act, or react has nearly disappeared. This sort of state of mind can arise from many causes.
eg. from eating too much, or having too little sleep, certain medications can cause this state of mind, some go into this state when they lose a loved one.
Mudha can happen as a reaction to a deep disappointment, when something that was deeply desired cannot be reached. And it sometimes arises in people, who, after many unsuccessful attempts to make something of their lives, simply withdraw and do not want to know about anything anymore.

3rd level is called viksipta. In viksipta the mind is moving but the movement lack consistent purpose and direction. The mind encounters obstacles and doubts.

The mind state is characterised by shifts from knowing what it wants to do and uncertainty, between confidence and diffidence. This is the most common state of mind.

4th level is called ekagrata. Here the mind is relatively clear. Distractions have little influence.

We have a direction and most important of all, we can move forward in this direction and keep our attention on it.
This state corresponds to dharana.

By practicing yoga we can create the conditions that gradually move the mind from ksipta to the ekagrata level.

When ekagrata is fully developed it peaks at nirodha

At the level of nirodha the mind is linked completely and exclusively with the object of its attention. Mind and object seem to merge into one.

rodha - developed from the root rudh "to be wrapped in"
ni is a prefix which indicates great internal intensity

Nirodha is also sometimes translated as "limit" or "restraint"
Which can be interpreted as "total absorbtion" as all other mental activities are restrained - indeed they cease.

Patanjali defines yoga as citta vritti nirodha - that state of mind that has one and only one direction is "citta vritti nirodha"

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